• Mar 17th 2011 at 4:55PM
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J.D. Power and Associates has released its annual Vehicle Dependability Study for 2011, and there are a few surprises in store for those who religiously keep track of who outperforms who on the automotive reliability front. For the first time ever, Lincoln, with 101 problems per 100 vehicles, leads the chart, followed by Lexus with a score of 109.

Number three on the list is also something of a surprise: Jaguar, who's score of 112 problems per 100 vehicles seemingly proves not all leaping kitties leave unwanted presents outside the confines of their litter boxes. Porsche (114) and Toyota (122) round out the top five. The industry average comes in at 151 problems per 100 vehicles, which of course means that some brands perform rather poorly in J.D. Power's rankings.

Bringing up the rear in this year's study is Mini, with 221 problems per 100 vehicles. That's not good. BMW's smallest brand is followed by Jeep (214), Land Rover (212), Dodge (206) and Chrysler (202). The study also ranks individual models in each category, and Toyota's seven individual segment victories gives the Japanese automaker more individual victories than any other brand.

A brief explanation of how this particular study is compiled: J.D. Power polled 43,700 original owners on problems experienced during the past 12 months on 2008 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. As such, this study is not ranking the latest vehicles by any given manufacturer, but is instead intended to help consumers predict the durability of a potential automobile purchase.

There's lots more detail in the press release and graphs found after the break, so click here and put your number-crunching hats on.

[Source: J.D. Power and Associates]
JD Power 2011 Dependability Study

JD Power 2011 Dependability Study

JD Power 2011 Dependability Study

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J.D. Power and Associates Reports:
While Vehicle Dependability Continues to Improve, New Technologies and Features Pose Challenges for Automakers

Toyota Motor Corporation Models Receive Seven Awards, While Models from Ford Motor Company Receive Four Awards

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 17 March 2011 - Overall vehicle dependability has improved from 2010, with automakers succeeding in reducing problem rates in many traditional areas, but experiencing some challenges in overcoming problems with newer technologies and features, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) released today.

The study, which measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old (2008 model year) vehicles, includes 202 different problem symptoms across all areas of the vehicle. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

The Vehicle Dependability Study is used extensively by vehicle manufacturers worldwide to help design and build better vehicles-which typically translates to higher resale values and higher customer loyalty. It also helps consumers make more-informed choices for both new- and used-vehicle purchases. Among new-vehicle shoppers, perception of quality and dependability is the most influential factor in their decision to purchase a specific vehicle model, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

In 2011, overall vehicle dependability averages 151 PP100-the lowest problem rate since the inception of the study in 1990-and improves from 170 PP 100 in 2009. Between 2009 and 2011, annual improvement for the industry has averaged 6 percent, which is slightly lower than historical rates of improvement. During the past decade, industry improvement has averaged 8 percent each year.

The slowdown in improvement is largely attributable to increased rates of problems with electronic features in vehicles, including audio, entertainment and navigation systems and new safety features, such as tire pressure monitoring systems.

"Automakers, as a whole, have made significant improvements in reducing traditional problems, particularly with vehicle interiors; engines and transmissions; and steering and braking during the past several years," said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, as manufacturers add new features and technologies to satisfy customer demand and new legislation, they face the potential for introducing new problems."

According to Sargent, as newer technologies become more widespread, enhancing the dependability of these features has become an important point of differentiation among automakers.

Highest-Ranked Nameplates and Models
For the first time since the inception of the study, Lincoln leads the overall nameplate rankings in 2011. Lincoln improves by 13 PP100 from 2010. Lexus follows Lincoln in the nameplate rankings. Rounding out the top five nameplates are Jaguar, Porsche and Toyota. The Porsche 911 has the fewest problems in the industry, with just 68 PP100.

Toyota Motor Corporation continues to perform well in long-term dependability and garners seven segment awards-more than any other automaker in 2011-for the Lexus RX, Scion xB, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Prius, Toyota Sienna, Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra. Ford Motor Company receives four model awards for the Ford Fusion, Ford Mustang, Lincoln MKZ and Lincoln Navigator. General Motors (Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, and Chevrolet Tahoe) and Honda Motor Company (Acura RL, Honda CR-V and Honda Fit) each receive three awards. In addition, the following models also receive awards: BMW X3, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Mercedes-Benz CLK.

The study finds that while domestic brands have closed the gap in initial quality with import brands, there is still a considerable difference between the two in vehicle dependability, with import brands outperforming domestic brands by 18 PP100 in 2011. This is consistent with findings of the 2008 Initial Quality Study,SM which examined the models included in the 2011 VDS after 90 days of ownership. While domestic brand cars have fewer problems (135 PP100, on average) than import brand cars (147 PP100, on average), trucks and crossover vehicles1 of import brands have considerably fewer problems than those of domestic brands.

In addition to affecting brand image and brand loyalty, long-term dependability also has a notable effect on dealership service and customer service spending. As the number of problems experienced increases, owners are increasingly likely to use non-dealer service facilities for paid service work. In addition, as the number of problems increases, the percentage of owners who say they "definitely will" return to their dealer for service diminishes. Among owners who indicate they have experienced no problems, 76 percent indicate they "definitely will" return to the dealer for paid service. This proportion decreases to 42 percent among owners who say they experienced six or more problems.

The 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 43,700 original owners of 2008 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded between October and December 2010.

Find more detailed findings on vehicle dependability as well as model photos and specs by reading an article and reviewing brand and segment dependability ratings at JDPower.com.

1The truck category includes both pickup trucks and vans, while the crossover vehicle category includes crossover vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles and utility vehicles.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global financial information and education company that helps professionals and students succeed in the Knowledge Economy. Leading brands include Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has approximately 21,000 employees with more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2010 were $6.2 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why only 3 year old cars? I would expect modern cars to have zero significant problems at this point, and if one or two did occur, as it appears likely from the survey, they would probably be fixed under warranty. If you buy a new car and keep it three years, relative dependability shouldn't be a big concern these days, except that getting warranty work done is still a PITA. Don't even get me started on how useless their initial quality survey is.

      If you buy a used car and keep it several years, this survey is meaningless. Some cars fall apart as soon as the warranty expires, and others keep chugging away for a decade, yet they both have few initial problems. You would want a survey of older cars, like 5-8 years old. And you would want to know if a "problem" is a rattle or a blown engine.

      And finally, you should consider why many of the top rated companies are JD Power clients. Does hiring JD Power improve product quality? Possibly, but I don't think anyone is that good.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The surprising part to me is that Toyota made the top five.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Putting aside the fact that recalls aren't taken into consideration in reliability reports, are you saying that Toyota owners/drivers tend to be dumber/worse drivers than owners/drivers of other brands?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Recalls are NOT taken into consideration when reliability is analyzed/ranked by the various services.

        Otherwise, automakers would be less prone to do recalls.
        • 4 Years Ago
        These are based off of 2008 vehicles. Wait for the owners of the 2010 recall-gate Toyotas to be surveyed. I'm sure Toyota will drop.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not surprising at all since it was proven nothing was wrong with the cars. The problem was with the drivers.

        This (Toyota in the top 5) was predicted by everyone in the know.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So, this is a survey of 3-year-old cars.

      Are there any surveys that go beyond 3 years? And/or breakdowns of problems by category?

      Yet another reason to buy a Mustang over an M3... (BMW folks love when we say that (; )
      • 4 Years Ago
      umm, this is exponential isn't it? If that's the case, then this study means jack, because there are hardly any Lincolns on the road these days.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That just goes to show you , instead of changing the sheet metal every couple of years concentrate on getting the bugs out & make the damn thing bullet proof like the old Lincoln Town Car was , and the Merc & the Crown Viv !
        • 4 Years Ago
        These days car companys have to make cars both reliable and modern swiftly. You cannot take short cuts like keeping old designs around for decades just to save in production cost. You will lose in the end.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great job everyone in the industry. Just 2 years ago 151(which is the industry average) would have gotten you 2nd on the list!

      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't mean to rain on the parade, but correct me if i'm wrong, Basically for every 100 vehicles sold the best reliablity is 101 problems. and the worst is 221.

      That works out to be one problem per vehicle for the best cars, and 2.2 problems per vehicle for the worst car manufacturer. I realize this is an average but people. The differences are minute at best.
        • 4 Years Ago
        While it's only a one problem difference, you're still much more likely to have a problem with a Dodge than a Toyota - nearly twice as likely. That's still pretty telling.

        Not a Toyota fan, have no plans of owning one. I'm just saying, I will also not own a Chrysler product until they can get closer to the industry average, period. Sure, they're doing some good work in design right now, but it comes down to long term reliablity.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. I just said the same thing in a reply to xeno1 above.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Interesting, is it me or is Porsche always at the top of these studies?
        • 4 Years Ago
        You need to come where the weather is warm and the Porsches have miles on them, the used SUV's I just looked at had plenty on them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was looking at used caymans. Most had very few miles on them. If you don't drive them, then they won't break.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Now bring on the MKC coupe!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good showing for Lincoln, Jaguar, and Porsche (considering their higher volume now adays.)

      Even though there is still room to improve, It's nice to see that Saab faired better than Volvo, Audi, Subaru, and BMW.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Lincolns nowadays are tarted up Fords.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The amazing part is how little difference there between the top cars and the bottom ones. I guess at this point they really are all the same.
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